LibriVox recording of The Iron Heel, by Jack London. Read by Matt Soar.
The Iron Heel is a dystopian novel by American writer Jack London, first published in 1908. It chronicles the rise of an oligarchic tyranny in the United States. It is arguably the novel in which Jack London's socialist views are most explicitly on display. A forerunner of soft science fiction novels and stories of the 1960s and 1970s, the book stresses future changes in society and politics while paying much less attention to technological changes. The book is uncommon among London's writings (and in the literature of the time in general) in being a first-person narrative of a woman protagonist written by a man. (Introduction by Wikipedia)
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January 14, 2015 Subject:
Superb, so compellingly read by Matt Soar
of this compelling social novel by the legendary and controversial, versatile writer of fiction and non fiction Jack London. Of course with London you will not find the higher diction and exposition of the greatest writers, yet this novel is so important. London was better at short stories, journalism, and excelled at adventure novels. London is an emotional writer with adequate writing talent to express his above average insights and experiences. This book is so prescient, nay more, it is a legitimate argument that inequality, war,economic chaos, class and ethnic divisions, chaos("the pecking order", to vent our pain and anger inflicted upon us by the oligarchy so we displace and project on each other),exploitation and misery are still with us as it was from the inception of civilization and sadly will go on into the future. I can answer only for the US. In the 1970's we were on the path to a social democracy. But that was stopped by the oligarchs and plutocrats here. Ever since the working and thus also the middle class have been pushed back towards the robber baron inequality by this insane neo-liberal, false political economy by conservatives and liberals both. From what I gather the same thing started backwards too in the UK with Thatcher, continued by new labour and now the Tory-libdem coalition is going mad with privatization. This privatization of public services and institutions sucks up more of the taxpayer and makes the poor more miserable, and since privatization is based on profit, public services and goods are worse than in the traditional public sector but costs the state more. And contracting public services to private concerns has created a bureaucracy that makes a socialist state seem streamlined.
November 5, 2011 Subject:
Thanks for reviving this "lost" work and the excellent narrative.
May 17, 2011 Subject:
Fantastic Reading of a Frighteningly Prescient Novel
I listened to this audiobook at the same time the Michigan legislature passed its bill on "Emergency Managers" who would render city councils and all other local democracy impotent, be appointed directly by the governor, not subject to oversight, with no cap on compensation, and with the fiat powers of absolute dictator. It made the possibility of a world where the government is in thrall to monopoly trusts whose will is enforced by mercenary armies all that much more imminent and terrifyingly plausible.
London makes no secret of his sympathy with the working class, but he roots it in a realistic vision where even a future utopia still clings so to male supremacy such that they date things from 1 "Brotherhood of Man" and where a pompous academic haughtily corrects the 'errors' in a primary source text written by a mere woman. Things may be better in London's future utopia, but they're evidently not quite all they could be.
London also has a section where he discusses how certain privileged skilled trades unions would become like medieval guilds where membership passed from father to son. He clearly is in favor of the IWW's One Big Union of the working class, regardless of skilled, semi-skilled, or unskilled status. This insight of his can be generalized to the way in which any "meritocratic" system would quickly degenerate to a strict class hierarchy. Though he doesn't explicitly address this aspect, it's such an obvious consequence of his reasoning that I think we can still give him half a century's precedence over Michael Young.
This is a richly rewarding book read at a professional level of quality.
August 7, 2010 Subject:
Powerful saga, fine reading
Excellent reading of Jack London's account of the coming revolution.
The early chapters are rather rhetorical but interesting all the same as an example of how early Marxist social theory was informed by the (now discredited) model of unilinear social evolution. Sounds heavy, but it's very well explained. Later chapters are exciting and sometimes harrowing descriptions of life under the oligarchy and abortive attempts at revolution.
The reader, Matt Soar, has a breathless delivery that add to the listener's feeling of being an insider on the revolutionists' trials and plans. Well done indeed, Matt. Highly recommended.